Clemson vs. Florida State Preview: Dabo Swinney and the Tigers Are All In

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst INovember 6, 2009

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers watches on from the sideliens during their game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Memorial Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The muddled ACC Atlantic may become a little clearer on Saturday night when Division leader Clemson welcomes FSU to Death Valley. The Seminoles have rebounded after some early season stumbles to stay in the Atlantic Division race.

Clemson has been in this situation before with all the marbles to play for, but they have to go all in by winning a division or conference title, which they have not done  since the early 90s.

Here are three questions I think must be answered by the winning team.

1. Will CJ Spiller Have a Good Game Or a Great Game?

The senior Clemson running back is closing on the all time record for all-purpose yards with a potential Heisman season. The Tigers have finally unlocked the multiple ways in which Spiller can be used and it is really helping their offense.

To have a great game though, I think Spiller needs to be fed the ball in the running game and get a big chunk of his yards that way.

FSU has shown they will give up yards on the ground this season. If Clemson wants to win this game they have to stick with Spiller on the ground instead of going with the pass in short yardage situations.

2. Can Clemson Slow FSU’s Passing Attack?

The unstoppable force meets the immovable object when FSU’s pass offense meets Clemson’s pass defense. The Seminoles are averaging 344 yards passing per game over their past three contests.

But Clemson is giving up just 127 yards through the air over that same period. This battle will likely be decided by how much pressure Clemson’s D-line, especially their talented DE tandem, can put on FSU QB Christian Ponder.

3. How Much Home Cooking Does Clemson Get?

No, I am not talking about the refs. I am talking about the energy the crowd brings to Death Valley. It is one of the loudest venues in all of college football and if Clemson gets up early by two scores then it will be rocking. I don’t know if FSU can overcome that kind of deficit on the road in front of that crowd on a Saturday night.


Year after year Clemson gets so close to that elusive ACC Championship Game and falls apart at some point in the season. Well the Tigers have already collapsed and come back from the dead to again lead their division.

I think with the way Clemson has played as of late achieving very good balance on offense, maintaining a high level of intensity on defense, and killing teams on kick returns with Spiller and Jacoby Ford, they will be too much at home for an improving Florida State to overcome.

I like Clemson to win and cover the nine point spread.

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